Do you have your very own marine biologist to change your Betta fish’s water? I do. I pay her with leftover enchiladas and stories about all the crazy people I’ve known in my life. She likes the stories and I like that when she leaves my house, it’s always cleaner than when she came and I always feel better about my life.
She does a good job hiding the fact that she may be judging me because I don’t eat organic biodegradable recycled soy milk or use free-range toilet paper. When I feed her and tell her not to ask what’s in the Mexican food, she doesn’t ask what’s in the Mexican food.
Tonight I invited her over to share some reheated culinary loveliness if she promised to close her eyes to the abundant evidence that I’d had several friends and their precious spawn in and out of my house all day, and hosted and cooked for a birthday luncheon. The main floor of my house was covered in a thick blanket of playdate sputum and I was seriously contemplating waiting 24 hours to remember what I wrote earlier this week and get my act together.
So while I rattled around in the kitchen, popping the pan of enchiladas back in the oven and nuking the other leftovers, she asked what she could do to help. Like any embarrassed woman would do, I told her not to worry about it and for heck’s sake to keep her shoes on when walking on my crusty kitchen floor.
She went into the family room and started picking up toys with unnatural speed. She picked up books, cars, blocks and spit-soaked Spiderman-flavored cheese crackers. She put away toys the kids thought they were still using and said, “Out of sight, out of mind.” In 20 minutes she managed to tidy up my entire main floor, the main floor that had looked like a tornado-ravaged Value Village. Then she joined me in the kitchen where I was ineffectually shuffling the dishes who were waiting for their turn in the magical automatic dish washing shower stall. In my house, dishes who are capable of washing themselves are never subjected to hand washing. It just wouldn’t be right.
She stepped to the sink and started rinsing the waiting dishes. She separated them according to shape, size and possibly color. As she went to dump some plastic silverware in an opaque pitcher of water to soak, she noticed something moving in the water and jumped, “AH! I almost dumped these dirty dishes in with your fish!”
I apologized for keeping JackAgain in a dish so near the drain board. He’d been there for 4 days because I was “cleaning his fishbowl.” In a miraculously non-judgmental tone, that somehow communicated “I want to save the dolphins but I still like you,” she insisted that he be moved back to his bowl immediately before he had a heart attack from the stress of his current living arrangements.
So she cleared out one side of the sink and brought his nasty stinky bowl of old ishy water over to wash. What happened next is a blur but there was a loud crash, Laylee had appeared out of nowhere, was now smiling up at me too innocently to really be innocent and the floor was covered in blech.
I muttered something about how much it stunk as I ran upstairs to get some towels. “It’s okay,” my neighbor called from the kitchen. “At least it doesn’t smell as bad as a dead whale.” She’s a marine biologist. She’s seen and smelled things I hope never to experience in my lifetime. She cleaned my house and saved the whales living in it. She ate my not-from-Whole-Foods food and asked for my recipes. She kept me company on another long lonely night and she told me I was a good mom.
I want to be that kind of friend. I know I’m grateful to have a few.